After falling just short of victory in a 2-1 double overtime away loss against St. John’s, new head coach Brendan Faherty and the Yale women’s soccer team bounced back with an emphatic 5-1 win over Fairfield in the Bulldogs’ home opener.
In the early phases of this year’s campaign, the Elis (1-1-0, 0-0-0 Ivy) have shown free-flowing attack, outshooting both the Red Storm (1-3-0, 0-0-0 Big East) and the Stags (2-2-0, 0-0-0 MAAC) — a welcome change from their disjointed offense in 2018. Standing out, first-year striker Ellery Winkler ’23 has taken quickly to the pitch. The Massachusetts native has struck home three times in the first two games of her collegiate career and earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors. Veteran midfielder Noelle Higginson ’20 and striker Aerial Chavarin ’20 also scored this weekend, heralding promise for the rest of the year.
“The college soccer season is a marathon and not a sprint,” Faherty said. “We need to continue to have a short term memory when it comes to results, but a long term memory when it comes to performance and willingness to learn and grow.”
The Blue and White gave a resilient and assuring first display against the Red Storm last Friday, despite conceding the winner with just over five minutes on the clock in the second frame of overtime. After going down 1-0 midway through the first half, the Bulldogs rallied to produce a flourish of exciting and attack-minded soccer. Her shot rattling off the crossbar, Chavarin nearly levelled things up almost immediately after the restart. The Elis kept pressing, and Winkler found a leveller 10 minutes into the second period.
The attack continued to churn out high quality opportunities, and the Elis nearly won it all in the last seconds of regular time after midfielder Reina Bonta ’21 deftly redirected a rebound off the crossbar into the net. However, the referees quickly disallowed the goal, ruling it offside.
Sunday’s clash against Fairfield proved to be a far easier assignment for the Bulldogs, as they showed a bounce-back mentality that they perhaps lacked at certain times last season. On its home turf at Reese Stadium, Yale had the opportunity to take an early lead after receiving a penalty two minutes in. Bonta stepped up to take spotkick, but Fairfield keeper Gena Pike saved the shot.
Nevertheless, the Elis continued to press and broke the deadlock 20 minutes into the game, with Chavarin converting another Yale penalty kick. Higginson, who bossed midfield on the day, nodded the hosts further into the lead, after guiding a perfectly weighted cross from forward Lydia Shaw ’21 in the 28th minute. The Stags brought one back before Winkler notched her first tally of the day on the stroke of halftime.
In the 48th minute, Alyssa Fagel ’20 showed that Yale’s defense is as impressive as the offense by saving a Fairfield penalty. Bonta then atoned for her earlier miss by blasting in a 25-yard shot. Finally, Winkler grabbed her second of the evening to extend the Elis’ lead to 5-1.
This game could have seen an even larger drubbing. The Bulldogs outshot Fairfield by a resounding 20-6 and trapped the Stags firmly in their own half of the pitch. Across both games this weekend, the Elis demonstrated confidence and poise that they can carry forward for the rest of the campaign.
“Having so many players scoring goals and making a big impact speaks to the depth of our team and makes me super excited to see what we can produce over the next two months,” Fagel said.
Yale will next face Loyola in Maryland on Friday.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org